How to Get Diesel Out Of Clothes – Easy Steps to Get Rid of Diesel from Clothes

Trucks, trains, ships, construction equipment, agricultural equipment, generators, RVs, etc. all run on diesel. Usually, if you need something with a little extra punch, it is diesel. If you have used diesel before, then you know it is notorious for these two things: stains and odors. It’s bad enough when diesel pours on the floor, thereby staining it, but sometimes the diesel also stains you and your clothes.

Diesel can be a nuisance, and it is not easy to clean. Special cleaning methods are needed to solve the annoying stains, and even then, the smell may remain. Fortunately, there are some solutions. In this article, I will guide you on how to get diesel out of clothes. 

How do you Remove Diesel Stains from Clothing?

After refueling a diesel generator or diesel truck and some of the fuel spills on your pants, what do you do? Removing diesel from clothes can be tricky; the stain can sometimes look permanent, and if it also has grease stains, it may seem impossible to clean them.

In this circumstance, some people just throw away their clothes, but this is wasteful. There is no need to get rid of a nice pair of jeans or your favorite shirt, just follow the steps to remove these stains.

Before going further, consider the following points: Is the contaminated clothing marked as “dry clean only”? If so, you need to take it to a professional dry cleaner because if you try to remove the stains yourself, you may damage your clothes. Also, home dry cleaning tools/ kits will likely not work and maybe dangerous, especially when grease and diesel are involved. Again, the following steps only apply to clothe. If you have diesel stains on your carpet or interior decoration, you should use other methods.

As a reminder, diesel fumes are flammable, and they can also make you feel like throwing up. If the stain is severe, the flame may also be severe. Ensure that there is no open flame or electrical equipment near the stain as they can cause sparks, which may lead to a fire.

Besides, open doors and windows to ventilate the area where you are working. Your body will appreciate this. Finally, after removing the stain, you may still find diesel fumes. The next part after this one will introduce how to eliminate the smell of diesel.

Steps for removing diesel stains

Step 1: 

Get the right tools and supplies: you will need solvent-based detergents (such as OxiClean or Shout) or enzyme-based heavy-duty liquid laundry detergents (such as Tide). You may also need baking soda, but it is optional and only used to combat odors from the beginning. You will also need a soft bristle brush (you can use a toothbrush) and a washing machine and dryer/clothesline. If you have all these, it’s okay, if not get it now. We have reduced your work of finding these tools. 

Solvent-Based Detergents

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Enzyme-based Heavy-Duty Liquid Laundry Detergent

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Baking Soda

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Soft Bristle Brush

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Portable Turbo Washing Machine

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Step 2: 

Pre-processing: start by using a soft brush to apply the solvent-based detergent or enzyme-based heavy-duty liquid detergent onto the stain. More absorbent and harder materials may require more work. After this, let the clothes stand for 15-20 minutes so that the pretreatment can be fully immersed.

Step 3: 

Wash the clothes with the hottest water that they can handle. Check the direction on the label of the garment for this information. Do not use chlorine bleach on the contaminated clothing as this will produce harmful fumes. Also, do not wash the clothes with other dirty clothing. After washing the clothes, the stain should disappear, but if it is still visible, repeat the first steps until the stain disappears. Old stains can be more challenging to remove, so it is always best to clean a piece of soiled clothing as soon as possible.

Step 4: 

Soak (optional): The stain is gone, but the fuel smell may still be there. This step solves this problem. Use a cup of baking soda in enough hot water to cover the clothes, and then leave it overnight. After the clothes are soaked, please rewash them as usual. In the next section, we will introduce other ways to solve the stubborn diesel smell.

Baking Soda

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Step 5: 

Dry the clothes. If the smell has disappeared completely, you can dry the clothes in a conventional dryer. However, if it still smells, do not use the dryer because if sparks from the machine encounter the diesel, it may cause a fire. Therefore, if the smell remains, try air-drying the cloth as this may eliminate the residual odor. The sulfur that causes the unpleasant smell of diesel is also found in the chemical that makes rotten eggs unpleasant. If you are in a problem drying your clothes after washing, get the KOFOHON Household Folding-Dry Machine Foldable Clothes Dryer. It will also help you dry your clothes on rainy days as well. Get it for one time and get relief from your tension for all time.

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Why does Diesel Smell Bad?

how to get diesel out of clothes

Have you ever driven past a facility that consumes a lot of sulfur? This pungent smell lingers in the air like rotten eggs. Well, all over the world, the sulfur content of diesel is very high. Combined with nickel in diesel, it can be used as an excellent lubricant for engines. Unfortunately, it also stinks.

Why Do You Need To Remove Diesel Smell?

Before knowing how to get diesel out of cloths and its smell, you should know why you should eliminate the smell. Diesel will leave a peculiar smell on clothes; it is also really uncomfortable, especially for those who are allergic to its chemical composition.

Read Article: Micro Campers

According to scientists, if you smell diesel fuel, you are inhaling the smoke. When the smoke enters the human body, it is absorbed by the blood, thereby reaching your vital organs, including the heart and brain. Your blood eventually contains trace amounts of fuel, and the oxygen content is reduced, so your organs cannot get enough oxygen. Thus, it is harmful to your health.

how to get diesel out of clothes

Similarly, the trace fuels present in the blood can have harmful effects on the human body. These harmful effects only occur when smoke is inhaled for a long time. If you smell smoke when refueling, twice or three times a month, it may be fine. However, if you smell smoke regularly, it will be harmful.

However, diesel makes clothes smell, stains them, and makes the washing machine smell. There are several different ways to solve the many troubles left by diesel. Now that you understand why you should remove the smell from your clothes, we will now show you how to eliminate the diesel smell on clothes.

How do you Remove the Smell of Diesel from Clothing?

If regular baking soda and air drying do not solve the problem, you can try these other methods to remove the diesel smell from your clothes.

Method 1: Baking soda and vinegar

The only thing that is better than one deodorant is two deodorants. Just wash the clothes with about half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of white vinegar, and then air dry. This method is excellent, but for strong smells and stains, you may need to try it more than once.

All you need to do is add equal amounts of baking soda and vinegar to the washing powder. It means that if you use a cup of detergent, you should also add a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar to the detergent. Baking soda and vinegar are not only natural deodorants, but they also break down oils.

Also, you can add baking soda and vinegar to your regular natural cleaning products. These two items are widespread when it comes to cleaning. You can check Green Gobbler Ultimate Vinegar, which is an excellent product worth using.

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Method 2: Coke and baking soda

It sounds unlikely, but it works. You might think that Coke will get your clothes more dirtily, but if you follow this procedure, your clothes will be clean and smell-free. The theory is that after the clothes are degreased, Coke and baking soda can work together to eliminate odors. If you want to try this method, you will need all these ingredients:

2-liter bottle of Coke, one box of baking soda, Sink or bathtub filled with warm water, and 1 cup of tidal detergent or degreasing product. Begin by soaking the clothes in hot water for two hours with tidal detergent or degreaser. It will break down the oil in the fuel stain. Next, drain the water and rinse the clothes. Refill the sink or bathtub with clean water, add a 2-liter bottle of Coke, then mix and dissolve the box of baking soda. Lastly, let the clothes soak in this mixture for 12-24 hours.

This method is beneficial, but frankly, it may still be effective without Coke. This method takes time and money, but it works. Although this is a bit weird, some people like weird ways of doing things, and so maybe you should try it.

Method 3: Listerine

One trick on how to remove diesel from clothes is to use the mouthwash known as Listerine. This cheap medicinal mouthwash found in grocery stores has long been known to eliminate the smoke smell from professional firefighters’ clothes. It can also remove diesel odor from washing machines and dryers and diesel stains or residual odors on clothes. If you have it in your home, it’s great, or else you can get it right now.

Listerine mouthwash is very effective in removing diesel odor and diesel stains from clothes. To do this, pour the mouthwash (Listerine) on the clothes. Leave it there for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse them underwater. It can not only eliminate the smell of diesel fuel but can also clean the washing machine. You can check out the Listerine Total Care Anticavity Mouthwash, as many people are full of praise for the effectiveness of this method; thus, you can use it with confidence.

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Method 4: Fast Orange Smooth Lotion Hand Cleaner

You can buy the Fast Orange Hand Cleaner at Amazon, an auto parts store. 

Although it is a hand cleaner, it can also be used in a washing machine to remove the smell of gas or diesel. The secret is that it is specially made to remove grease or fuel from the hands, but it also works well on clothes. Some people suggest adding boxed baking powder to ensure that the smell of the fuel is completely removed.

Many people believe that this is the best way to remove the smell of gasoline or diesel from clothes. Make sure to get the Fast Orange Smooth Lotion Hand Cleaner as it will be written on the label. In this regard, a good product is a gallon of Permatex 23218 fast orange smooth hand sanitizer with pump.

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Method 5: Alcohol and Baking Soda

Baking soda can effectively absorb odors, and the alcohol will evaporate quickly, making it an ideal combination for removing diesel stains on clothes. Sprinkle baking soda on the stained area, pour alcohol on it, and rub the paste on the clothes. This method is especially useful if diesel oil is immersed in hard corners of clothing. The reason is that rubbing alcohol does not penetrate and get retained into the material, so it is not prone to mold. If there are no stains and you just want to remove the diesel smell, you can make use of rubbing alcohol alone.

To do this, you need to pour half a cup of rubbing alcohol into a half-gallon bucket. Soak the diesel-soaked clothes in the solution for 20 minutes and then wash them.

Method 6: Non-Sudsing Ammonia

If your clothes have a pungent odor, pour warm water and Non-Sudsing household ammonia in a washing machine, a deep sink or a plastic bucket, and soak them overnight. If possible, keep the washing machine lid closed or cover the bathtub and Sink. Drain the washing machine the next day and wash the clothes as usual. Do not use chlorine bleach during soaking or washing as mixing ammonia with bleach can produce toxic fumes.

Method 7: Solvent-Based Stain Remover

Pre-treat the diesel stained clothes with solvent-based detergents or enzyme-based heavy-duty liquid detergents. Use a soft brush to wipe them and leave for at least 15 minutes. Then, wash the clothes in the hottest water suitable for the fabric. If there is still a residual fuel smell, repeat the treatment or soak the clothes in baking soda and water solution overnight. Then wash as usual.

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What to do if a Stain Just Won’t Come Out

You spilled diesel on your favorite pair of pants, you tried all the removal methods in this article, but the stain still exists! Wow, what do you do? Many people might just throw away their pants and buy another one. But you should not do this. These pants still have multiple uses. You can still wear them as work clothes. If the smell is not too severe, then the pants may be useful for gardening, mechanical work, or other things that may make you dirty.

If the stain is not too big, you can cut off the problematic part and replace it with a patch. There is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you like this clothing, you should try to save it. Similarly, you can reuse the materials in the clothing for other clothing. Depending on how cunning you are, you can make a new shirt from it. In the worst case, you can cut the clothes, and now you have to wash rags which you can use in the kitchen when you are camping, or even the next time you use diesel.

Can you wash clothes with diesel fuel on them?

You can wash clothes with diesel, but it is always best to follow the guidelines mentioned earlier. Do not wash stained clothes with other unstained clothes, and always correctly pre-treat stains to ensure they are removed. The most important thing to note is not to put clothes with diesel stains or diesel smell into the dryer because this can cause a fire.

Is it dangerous to get diesel on you?

how to get diesel out of clothes

According to the World Health Organization, diesel is not considered to be particularly toxic, and accidental poisoning is very uncommon. However, if you ingest diesel, you should seek medical advice immediately. If vomiting or inhalation of diesel drops occurs, there is little risk of lung damage in the short term. Prolonged skin contact with diesel fuel may cause eczema (dermatitis) and should be avoided. If diesel fuel stays on the skin for too long, it will be absorbed, and as mentioned earlier, this can cause eczema, but massive exposure can also cause kidney damage.

Diesel fumes can also irritate your eyes, skin, and respiratory tract and eventually cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea. However, this is only for a short time. Long-term exposure may cause lung cancer, kidney damage, and even increase the risk of a heart attack. It is best not to get you and your clothes contaminated with diesel fuel, and if you want to be still able to wear the clothes, you should remove it as soon as possible. Excessive exposure to diesel for a long time may endanger your health. It is always best to clear it once a stain occurs and follow the steps mentioned here.

How to Prevent Getting Diesel on your Clothes

It is not possible to prevent diesel stains 100%, but here are some simple tips that can help reduce that occurrence:

  • If you are using diesel, please wear dark clothes which you won’t mind getting dirty.
  • Work slowly and with great care as fast and unstable movements can quickly cause spillage. 
  • If you are using diesel, make sure to put it in a well-lit place to see what you are doing.
  • Pay attention to your steps. Pour wood shavings or cat litter on the floor to help absorb spills before a diesel leak occurs. Also, check the bottom of your shoe to ensure there is no stain, so you don’t bring diesel stains inside the living room with you.
  • Don’t overfill things. Just when you think you can put another drop of oil into your fuel tank is usually when it overflows and spills on the floor and over you. If you are frequently exposed to diesel, you should take appropriate precautions.


As more and more countries are banning diesel vehicles, the use of diesel in cars and industries is becoming less by the day. Some articles call it “the death of diesel.” But for many people, it is still a part of life.

Workers, outdoor enthusiasts, and truck drivers handle diesel every day; therefore, occasional leaks, stains, and an unforgettable diesel smell are unavoidable. If the right method is used, diesel stains may only be a nuisance rather than a damaging thing to the clothing. The residual odor can be eliminated in hours instead of days.

As long as there is diesel, these methods will always be in use. Therefore, the next time you refuel and accidentally get diesel on your legs or clothes, don’t worry. Just follow the steps mentioned above, and you can return to the task at hand.

Alix Johnson Romi

Alix is the Co-founder of Easy Trip Guides. She started with Michael to share her love for the outdoors with people from all around the globe. She started as an outdoor lover while skiing and snowboarding in the backcountry of New Zealand with her future husband, Antonio. They shared a dream to see the world, so in 2013 they set off to cycle from California to Argentina. The freedom of the open ice route, living close to nature, and the total annihilation of her comfort zone fueled Alix's desire to keep exploring long after the bike trip was over. Her adventure addiction has taken her scuba diving with hammerhead sharks, hiking to the K2 base camp, kiteboarding in Sri Lanka, and kayaking in Antarctica. Through these experiences, she has developed a strong belief in the power of adventure to reconnect people to nature, provide meaningful jobs to impoverished communities and promote the conservation of wild places and animals. At Easy Trip Guides, she covers snowing, skating, snowboarding, and skiing as she loves to do these outdoor adventures a lot.

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